Tolkien Notes 13
Indents, and Odovacar
Tolkien’s publisher Rayner Unwin once suggested, not entirely with tongue in cheek, that it could take centuries to achieve a printing of The Lord of the Rings with ‘typographical perfection’. One could predict just as well that there will never be an edition of The Lord of the Rings wholly without error, or if there were, it would not last for long, as errors seem to enter of their own will with every new typesetting or substantial revision. This is not to say that one should not strive to be correct, only that complete textual accuracy, and faithfulness to an author’s intentions, may be a quality that one may approach but can never quite reach.
One case in point arose from a question we received last year from our friend Andrew Ferguson. He asked if the space (indent) before ‘Elrond reveals . . .’ on p. 1089 of our edition of The Lord of the Rings (the citation is to the standard typesetting) could be an error, as it was not present in the first edition. The indented line begins a second paragraph in the entry for Third Age 2951 in the Tale of Years (Appendix B). We went to our shelves and determined that the indent was introduced in the reset edition of 1994. But the question remained: Is the indent an error, or is it wrong not to have the indent? Or even, would it be wrong in either case, if the text were meant to run on? 2951 is the only entry we can find in the Tale of Years which has a physical (line) break in the text. We felt that the entry for 3009 (p. 1090) could have a break, between ‘was captured by Sauron’ and ‘Elrond sends for Arwen’. Earlier this year, we were able to check these points on a visit to the Marquette University Tolkien papers, and made the following discoveries.
1. In Tolkien’s typescript of The Lord of the Rings (Marquette Series 3/9/6), ‘Elrond reveals . . .’ begins a new entry, under the date heading 2952. Also in the typescript, there is an entry for 3016, beginning ‘Elrond sends for Arwen . . .’ i.e. this part of the entry for 3009, as currently printed, was originally a separate entry dated seven years later.
2. In one galley proof (3/9/20) the shoulder date heading ‘2952’ is marked for deletion, but ‘Elrond reveals . . .’, beginning a new line, is not marked to run on with the text of the entry for 2951. The entry for 3016 is present, as in the typescript.
3. In another galley proof (3/9/21) ‘2952’ is not deleted. Appendix B ends erroneously with the entry for 3009, lacking ‘Elrond sends for Arwen . . .’ (i.e. the entry for 3016).
4. In still a third galley proof (3/9/22), both ‘2952’ and the entry for 3016 are present.
5. As published, in all editions, there has never been a Tale of Years entry under the date heading 2952, but ‘Elrond reveals . . .’ has always begun on a new line. Someone at HarperCollins evidently noticed the latter break in text when resetting for the edition of 1994, and felt that ‘Elrond reveals . . .’ needed to be indented as a new paragraph. Also, in all printings of the first edition, there is an entry for 3016, ‘Elrond sends for Arwen . . .’
6. With the revised and reset Appendices in the Ballantine Books edition of 1965, there was no separate entry for 3016, the text beginning ‘Elrond sends for Arwen . . .’ being conjoined with the entry for 3009. This carried over into the Allen & Unwin second edition, in which the Appendices were reset following the Ballantine printing (Tolkien’s original notes for revisions as sent to Houghton Mifflin having been lost), and is the text for all subsequent printings.
Since ‘Elrond reveals . . .’ has always begun a new line, and despite the associated date having been deleted from the one galley proof and from the printed text, we are inclined to think, following the evidence of the typescript, that Tolkien intended to begin a new entry, dated 2952. He also seems to have meant ‘Elrond sends for Arwen . . .’ to begin an entry for 3016, as in the first edition, rather than run on as part of the entry for 3009, as in the flawed Ballantine setting. Christopher Tolkien agrees that these points should be submitted to HarperCollins as further corrections.
Another question of long standing came to us from Larry Kuenning, as to whether the birth date of Odovacar Bolger, in the Bolger family tree, should be 1336, as printed in our edition of The Lord of the Rings, or 1335, as in The Peoples of Middle-earth. At Marquette, we found that Tolkien had written ‘1335’ in two holograph copies of the family tree (Marquette Series 3/9/8 and 3/9/9), but emended this to ‘1336’ in one galley proof of the printed family tree (3/9/10). In two other galley proofs, however, the date is not emended. With no final version, the Bolger family tree having been omitted from editions during Tolkien’s lifetime, Christopher Tolkien agrees with us that we cannot be sure which date his father intended, and therefore we must leave the point open to question.
The Map of Middle-earth
Like many other Tolkien enthusiasts, we were surprised when Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford offered for sale a proof of the original printed Lord of the Rings general map, annotated by both Tolkien and Pauline Baynes to assist Baynes in making the 1969 poster-map, A Map of Middle-earth. We wish we had known of its existence in Pauline’s collection; if we had, we could have examined it closely on one of our visits to her, and it may have helped inform our comments in The Art of The Lord of the Rings. Much has been written about it online, not always accurately. The best transcription of the annotations accompanies an article in French, ‘Découverte d’une carte de la Terre du Milieu annotée par Tolkien pour Pauline Baynes’, on the Tolkiendil site. Both Tolkien and Baynes had difficult handwriting from time to time, and there are still some points in question.
The Art of The Lord of the Rings
Our latest book appears to be selling very well. Now and then it has been listed on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk as no. 1 in one category or another – the Amazons have many categories, such as Science Fiction and Fantasy criticism, and ‘Catalogs, Collections & Exhibitions’ in graphic arts. The Art of The Hobbit also continues to do well. We hope that those of our readers to whom Father Christmas brought one or another (or even many) of our books this year will enjoy them, and that you will all have a happy holiday season and new year.